Crocodile Dundee (Source: Screen Australia).
The screen industry contributes around $3 billion to the economy annually and creates over 25,000 full time equivalent jobs, according to a new report commissioned by Screen Australia.
Launching the report at the Screen Forever conference on Tuesday, Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield described it as the first full measure of the economic and cultural value of the screen sector.
“But it has struck me that the value of our screen stories can be viewed from a different angle, and that is: what if we didn’t have them,” he said.
“Would ANZAC Day have revived and would our diggers be as well understood without the force of Peter Weir’s Gallipoli? How would we view our shared past, present and future without the perspectives brought to us by First Australians, That Sugar Film or Howard On Menzies? How would our children view the world without the window – or three windows – of Play School? Would cross-cultural or gay relationships be seen as part of everyday life without the chance to see them on screen in dramas like Number 96?
“And how would the world see us without ‘that’s not a knife’ or, to step back into the world of politics, what would our understanding of the constitution be without Dennis Denuto in The Castle?”
Minister Fifield said that while the taxpayer supported the screen industry, the screen industry was a significant contributor to the economy and culture, and an important employer.
The report, known as Screen Currency, is based on research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics and Olsberg SPI. According to its data, screen content under Aussie creative control generated $2.6 billion and 20,158 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in 2014-15. That was the equivalent of 18 per cent of Australia’s arts, sports and recreations services.
Production and post, digital and visual effects services conducted in Australia on foreign films contributed another $382 million and 4,093 FTE jobs. Digital games production added another $123 million and 1,053 jobs.
It was also concluded that Aussie screen content was a powerful tourism driver, attracting around 230,000 international tourists a year and an estimated $725 million in associated expenditure. By comparison, the Sydney Opera House is estimated to have drawn in $640 million.
Aussie narrative content also drives around $252 million in export earnings – whether through international box office earnings, license fees or DVD/Blu-Ray sales.
Over 1,000 people were surveyed about their attitudes to Australian content as part of the report. Respondents were able to identify 271 separate pieces of Australian screen content they considered culturally valuable. These included Crocodile Dundee, Home and Away, Rabbit-Proof Fence and Four Corners.
Only 2 per cent of survey respondents said they don’t watch Aussie content, while 64 per cent said that it accounted for up to half of their viewing.
More than 60 per cent of respondents also considered Aussie content distinctive from foreign content, and around 76 per cent of Australian respondents agreed the government should support the sector.
The report also argued that Aussie screen stories “provide a unique avenue for international ‘soft diplomacy’.”
“By presenting aspects of Australia that are strongly embraced by international audiences, programs such as Home and Away, Neighbours and McLeod’s Daughters have for decades promoted understanding of and openness to Australian culture, values and people,” the report said.
“The international profiles of our established and emerging screen talent – from Cate Blanchett, to Chris Hemsworth, (the voice of a recent Tourism Australia campaign) to RackaRacka’s Philippou brothers – also help promote the Australian brand and bring attention to the counry.”
“These international profiles not only support tourism, they also forge a sense of relatability as they communicate Australian culture and values to the world.”
Read the Screen Currency report here.